In promoting her new cookbook, Around My French Table, Dorie Greenspan showed Michele Norris of NPR how to cook what she calls "stuffed pumpkin with everything good" (well, as much as you can "show" someone on the radio, right? For all we know, they were standing around pretending to cook).
She is NOT kidding with that name.
And I am not kidding in saying that this is one of the best dishes I've eaten in a really, really long time, either at home or in a restaurant.
Imagine bread pudding tucked into a creamy roasted pumpkin -- holy crap. And did I mention that it's easy to prepare?
But don't take my word for it. My husband, a self-avowed squash-hater who was giving this dish the hairy eyeball during the cooking process and looking slightly pained when I served it, gave me permission to tell you that this is one spectacularly delicious dish.
A couple of notes, up front:
- Ratios: I've modified some of the ratios that Dorie calls for in her recipe but want to point out, as she does, that a lot depends on the size of your pumpkin. Mine was exactly three pounds, very petite, and held all of the mixture as prepared. I used a bit more cream than Dorie but felt justified because mine was light and hers was heavy.
- Servings: Our pumpkin yielded two generous portions and a little left over for lunch (we easily could have eaten all of it but tried to control ourselves). I'm going to prepare this again when my inlaws come to visit this weekend, so I think I will need to cook two pumpkins for all four of us.
- Substitutions: Be sure to check out Dorie's recipe at the NPR site because she has included lots of ideas for substitutions that all sound amazing (e.g., adding cooked kale to the mix or substituting rice for the bread to make more of a risotto), as well as multiple serving suggestions (I went with the "pull-and-mix" option).
Stuffed Pumpkin (adapted from Dorie Greenspan in Around My French Table)
1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds
Salt and pepper
1/4 pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 pound cheese, such as Gruyere, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup cooked sausage (or bacon)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1/2 cup light cream
Pinch of nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Carefully cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin, as you would carve a Halloween jack-o'-lantern. Scrape away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on a baking sheet lined with foil. Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, sausage and herbs together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper then pack the mixture into the pumpkin. (The pumpkin should be well filled). Mix the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Adjust the cream as necessary — you don't want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened.
Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours — check after 90 minutes — or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is browned. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven. With a large spoon, scoop out all the filling and the pumpkin meat and mix it all up in a bowl. Serve immediately.
[ Shout out to Robyn for passing this one along to me!]